When I interned for a book publishing company in Boulder, I learned about the importance of getting reviews for books and giving away some of your content for free to get results. We would then use the reviews for promotion of the book. We sent the review requests to people the publisher had developed relationships with or had expertise in the topic that the book was discussing. When a person agreed to review the book, we sent them a nice cover letter and a copy of the advance review copy of the book. We were able to get quite a few responses this way.
If you are not tied to a traditional publisher, you need to find these reviewers yourself. It will probably take a little bit of work, and you will need to dig into your network to find reviewers online such as on blogs or websites and offline such as from newspapers or magazines. There are some places you can pay to have someone review the book. Some services include Kirkus Reviews, America Library Association Booklist, Westword, and Bloomsbury Review among others. If you are lucky you might be able to get someone to do it for free. FSB Media has a database of book bloggers who you might be able to reach out to and get your book featured or reviewed. You can find them at http://www.fsbmedia.com/book_blogger_search.php. There are also several book social networking sites such as LibraryThing and shelfari where you can give away free books in exchange for reviews.
At this point, you have already given away your book to a few people in exchange for reviews, so you should be willing to give out free excerpts of your book in hopes that they might be willing to read your whole book. This is where having a social networking site set up will come in handy. By giving something away for free, you are showcasing the value of your content. You can add testimonials or those reviews that you just got to encourage people to purchase your entire book. Make sure that the free content you offer is a part of your book and not just a summary of the book, so people will feel that they are getting something of real value. Providing value makes the buying decision a natural one.
There are even videos on YouTube featuring book reviews. If you can get a reviewer to make a video talking about your book, you are in book marketer’s heaven. Here’s a link to one such video below:
The bottom line is that promoting books online is not easy. It takes time, flexibility, expertise, creativity, and patience. It might take just as long to promote your book as it took to write it. But it’s important to stick with a long-term strategy so that you will build a relationship with readers that will endure through many of your books being published.